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Interview with Vanessa de Largie, author of Don’t Hit Me!

Vanessa de LargieVanessa de Largie is a multi-award-winning actress and author based in Australia. She was introduced into the world of make-believe when she was 3.  Her mother was a film buff, who made her watch films from the 50’s era. Her father, an avid reader and vinyl collector gave her a love of books and music. Combined, her parents influence allowed her to know early on, what she wanted to do with her life. At 22, Vanessa left her hometown of Perth for Melbourne and within a month, she had a lead role in a play at Melbourne’s La Mama Theatre. Over the next decade, she would begin to hone her craft.

In 2006, Vanessa was cast in the lead role of Nocturne, Night of The Vampire, directed by prolific Melbourne film maker Bill Mousoulis. The film earned her the Best Female Actor Award at the 2007 Melbourne Underground Film Festival.  The film was accepted into the main program of the Athens Film Festival, Cork Film Festival and the Brussels Fantastic Film Festival. Vanessa was flown over as a guest. (Nocturne, Night of The Vampire is now distributed by Troma.)

In 2009, Vanessa was cast as the lead in horror film Context, the film premiered at the Razor Reel Film Festival in Bruges, in which Vanessa flew over as a guest.  Context is part of the extras on the American release of El Monstro Del Mar by Breaking Glass Pictures Distribution.  (Unfortunately it isn’t listed on the dvd’s cover.)

Later in 2009, Vanessa was accepted into the New Actors Workshop in New York, run by famous film director – Mike Nichols (The Graduate.)  On her return she worked on the film Crazy In The Night starring film director Frank Howson and Prisoner actors Tommy Dysart and Joan Brockenshire.  Vanessa won a second Best Female Actor Award at the 2010 Melbourne Underground Film Festival for her leading role in the film.

In 2011, Vanessa was selected as a Victorian finalist in The Miss Pinup Australia Pageant, where she competed under the title Miss V-Bomb. She was given a spread in Beat Magazine as well as being interviewed by various Victorian newspapers.

In 2012, Vanessa became a freelance writer and mentor for Topic Media, writing over 90 lifestyle articles and winning many writing awards.  That year, she was also commissioned by Australian publisher Hampress to write her erotic memoir Tantric Afternoons.

Tantric Afternoons launched in April 2013 to rave reviews.  Vanessa followed the book’s release with 4 more titles – Tough ChoicePowers At PlayLascivious and her latest book, Don’t Hit Me!

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About the Book:

Don't Hit Me!#1 Amazon Bestseller
# Winner of the 2014 Global eBook Award Bronze (women’s studies)
# Winner of the 2014 Honourable Mention Award London Book Festival (memoir)
# Five-Star Review Midwest Book Review
# Five-Star Review San Francisco Book Review
# Five-Star Review #1 Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer – UK
# 3 out of 4 stars Official Online Bookclub

Australian actress and author Vanessa de Largie is a survivor of domestic violence.
Don’t Hit Me is the true diarised account of her time living with an abusive man. The story is conveyed through poems, journal entries and fragments of lyrical prose. The book is a snapshot of domestic violence in real time. Raw, poignant and brave – it’s a tale that will stay with you.

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Vanessa. Can we start out by asking whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

I am a multi-published author.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I was published by a small press the first time. It happened serendipitously.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

It was about a year from first discussions to publication.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

Tantric Afternoons was published on the 8th of April 2013, which was the day that Margaret Thatcher died. So, I remember drinking champagne, celebrating my book whilst also celebrating the life of an incredible woman.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I bombarded my social networks and received great support and feedback.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I’m a professional actress too. But I think in both acting and writing, you can believe that some magic-fairy is going to come along and give it all to you. You can’t afford to wait for that moment. It’s best to be active and do it yourself. You’ll often hear those in high positions scoff at artists who are independent or who self-publish. But every thing you do leads to something else. So I think it’s better to take some sort of action than wait around for a gatekeeper to say yes. I’ve had to do everything myself. It’s character building! But I would not hesitate to go the indie way with any project because often publishers, agents, producers etc will hop on board along the way. A lot of my work has got legs that way. I am a better writer and a more confident business woman. I no longer take offense to rejection. It just means I’m a step closer to success.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

They are so lovely compared to the entertainment industry. Publishers and writers actually have the grace to reply to emails and answer their phones. The writing and publishing industry is a lot kinder to one’s soul than the acting industry. I am much happier since writing became my main thing.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

I’m proud of what I have achieved thus far but I intend to do big things over the next decade. I’m only really beginning. Being a published author gives you a platform to raise awareness about things you’re passionate about. It gives you a voice.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Don’t dream about it. Take action!

Interview with Michael Ditchfield, author of ‘Life’s Too Short for Leftovers’

michael_106 (2)Humanitarian Michael Ditchfield—bestselling author, sought-after speaker, entrepreneur, and former professional athlete, is committed to addressing the humanitarian plight of developing countries. Ditchfield speaks widely on how to inspire change and promote empowerment among cultures and individuals. 
He has worked extensively with children in Africa using sports and culture in furthering the peace process. He remains dedicated to transforming lives by advocating for human dignity across the globe.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your book, Life’s Too Short for Leftovers. What was your inspiration for it?

A: After my first trip to Ethiopia I realized that we all can learn from each other. I wanted people to experience the passion and commitment to helping those amazing individuals in different parts of Africa.

Q: Why was the writing of this book important for you?

A: To save lives while bettering our own.

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

LTS-front (2)A: The creative process was mapped out in my mind by circumstances. My mentor began the journey for me and from that watershed I continued to feel the passion which kept the process on course. It took 5 years to complete although the creative mind was fooling with the idea years before that. The bumps were practical in nature. Being able to get into the different parts of countries in Africa presented some stumbling blocks but eventually they turned into stepping stones.

Q: What is the one thing you hope readers will take away from your book?

A: That they can make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others no matter how near or far away that person is.

Q: What discoveries or surprises did you experience while writing this book?

A: That I had an amazing journey to document with individuals who made me a better person.

Q: How do you define success?

A: The ability to look failure in the eye and smile.

Q: Could you talk a little bit about your publishing process?

A: I found the right team who knew a little more than I did, from editors, book designers, marketers and people who pointed me in the right direction. I did not want my passion compromised and I did not want the content to deviate from this vision. That’s what my team accomplished.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring nonfiction writers? Could you offer some tips or resources that have been helpful to you?

A: To seek advice at every corner of the process, from those who have gone before and trodden down the grass in front of them. I sought an individual who had done this already, but still allowed me to dream and stand for something along the way.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A: When you purchase the book you will see just how much you change and at the same time, realize how much you are changing the lives of others in this world.

Interview with angel expert & children’s book author Michelle Beber

Michelle Beber has certifications as an Angel Intuitive and Angel Oracle Card Reader from renowned “angel lady,” Doreen Virtue, as well as certifications as a Spiritual Teacher and Archangel Life Coach from Doreen’s son, Charles Michelle BeberVirtue.

In 2008, Michelle’s life changed when she attended a spiritual retreat and learned about angels and how they communicate through repetitive number sequences known as “angel numbers.” Little did she know that this insight would lead her on an amazing spiritual journey that would directly connect her with angels and result in the discovery of her life purpose.

Always grateful for the spiritual guidance she has received, Michelle looks forward to sharing the knowledge she has gained to inspire others, especially children. Michelle is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Her latest book is the juvenile fiction/children’s picture book, Angels, Angels, Everywhere.

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About the Book:

Angels Angels Everywhere 2Title: Angels, Angels, Everywhere
Author: Michelle Beber
Publisher: Balboa Press
Pages: 30
Genre: Juvenile Fiction/Children’s Picture Book
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Nook

Angels, Angels, Everywhere is a non-denominational, multiracial book written in delightful rhythm and rhyme and accompanied by charming illustrations. The themes of constant support and unconditional love are designed to help children deal with everyday experiences in life.

By developing children’s faith in knowing that they are not alone and building their trust that they are consistently watched over, cared for, and loved, children will become empowered to deal with life’s challenges. The book also lets children know that angels are there in good times as well, sharing in their joy.

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Michelle Beber. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Angels, Angels, Everywhere is my first published book.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I chose to self-publish with vanity publisher, Balboa Press, the self-publishing division of Hay House Publishing, because I wanted to align myself with a company who had the same spiritual and metaphysical philosophy as mine. There are many options available to writers, and I recommend that authors do a lot of research to determine which choice is best for their particular circumstances.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

It took nine months, just like having a baby! This was definitely “the birth of my first child.” It would’ve taken less time if I wasn’t such a perfectionist, but I was more interested in having a quality product versus rushing it into the marketplace.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

It was amazing! I’ll never forget holding the book in my hands for the first time. It was an incredible feeling to see all the hard work that I’d put into something become a reality. I danced around the living room with my book in my hands, saying, “I did it! It’s real!”

Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?

It seemed like I did so many things at once, it’s hard to recall, but it was probably setting up my Amazon Author Central page. Setting up that page was highly recommended since Amazon is the largest retailer of books in the world.

At that time, I was also looking into website development and setting up my social media accounts. Needless to say, you must have an online presence.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I have a much better understanding of what it takes to put a book together and have learned that the production of the book was the easy part. The hardest part begins after the book is printed. Whether you publish traditionally or independently, you will need to do your own marketing and promotion, so be prepared to put in the necessary time and effort because your book will only be as successful as you make it.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

What has amazed me is the vast amount of supportive organizations out there to help authors learn and grow. I’m a member of the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and have found their workshops very helpful. If you do a Google search, you can find lots of beneficial networking groups, seminars, workshops, and conferences.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

The most rewarding thing about being a published author is reading the beautiful reviews that people have left about my book. It’s so heartwarming to know that I’ve had a positive impact on people’s lives, especially children.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Never give up! If you’re passionate about writing, don’t let anything stop you from achieving your dream. It’s what you were meant to do. Stay positive, work hard, and have patience. It can take a long time to put your book into the marketplace, but once you do, it’s the most gratifying feeling you’ll ever have. And finally, don’t forget to ask the angels for help!

 

Interview with ‘The Ark’ Laura Liddell Nolen

Laura NolenLaura Liddell Nolen grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she spent lots of time playing make-believe with her two younger brothers. They supplemented their own stories with a steady diet of space- and superhero-themed movies, books, and television. The daughter of a comic book collector, she learned how to handle old comics at an early age, a skill she’s inordinately proud of to this day.

Laura began work on her first novel, The Ark, in 2012, following the birth of her daughter Ava, a tiny rebel and a sweetheart on whom the novel’s main character is loosely based. Completion of The Ark was made possible in part due to an SCBWI Work-in-Progress Award.

Laura loves coffee, dogs, and making lists. She has a degree in French and a license to practice law, but both are frozen in carbonite at present. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two young children, and their dog Miley, who is a very good girl.

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About the Book:

The Ark 2There’s a meteor headed for Earth, and there is only one way to survive.

It’s the final days of earth, and sixteen-year-old Char is right where she belongs: in prison. With her criminal record, she doesn’t qualify for a place on an Ark, one of the five massive bioships designed to protect earth’s survivors during the meteor strike that looks set to destroy the planet. Only a select few will be saved – like her mom, dad, and brother – all of whom have long since turned their backs on Char.

If she ever wants to redeem herself, Char must use all the tricks of the trade to swindle her way into outer space, where she hopes to reunite with her family, regardless of whether they actually ever want to see her again, or not . . .

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Laura. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

It’s my first time! Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I’m with Harper Voyager, the global science fiction and fantasy imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. A little while back, they put out a call for unsolicited submissions, and I sent in The Ark. I think Voyager received around 5,000 manuscripts, so it was never something I expected to “win.”

When I got the call, I was so excited. I jumped up and down like a crazy person.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

I signed last summer, and The Ark was published March 26. The paperback is out this fall!

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

It’s fantastic. Like a lot of your readers, I’d been dreaming of getting to that point for a long, long time.

As for celebrating, it was more like a series of smaller celebrations than one big hurrah. Finishing the first draft was a tremendous accomplishment for me, even when I thought nothing might ever come of it. I wasn’t totally sure I had it in me to get that far. So was finishing the second draft! I’ve already mentioned doing my happy dance when I got the call from my editor that I’d been chosen. Signing the contract called for another joyous jig, and of course, there was much rejoicing the day the book finally came out.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

Harper Voyager was kind enough to give me an interview and a guest post on their blog. You can find them here and here.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

So far, my time has been spent promoting The Ark. But it’s only been three weeks. Another difference is that although I was always trying my hardest, I am doubly inspired to put out my best work possible. Before, I never knew anyone would read it. Now, I know it’s going to be published! No pressure there.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I’ve said this before, but the single most amazing thing about the publishing industry is the support of my fellow writers. I’ve had a few readers reach out in the past couple of weeks to say that they enjoyed the book, and that’s really special, too. I even heard from a mother who told me her daughter hadn’t been so engaged by a book in awhile, and that was an awesome feeling.

I will admit that most of the people who reached out mainly just wanted to tell me not to end the next one on a cliffhanger, to which I say: THANK YOU for reading my book! And we’ll see…

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Knowing my kids, especially my daughter, will one day get to read the words I wrote. Wanting my children eventually to understand me as a person is a secondary goal in parenting, but it’s important nonetheless.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Keep writing! You can do this. I truly believe that anyone- anyone- can improve with practice. Practice involves reading as much as you can and thinking about the way better authors put their stories together. But, alas, it also involves writing.

So keep writing.

A Conversation with Stephen C. Merlino, author of ‘The Jack of Souls’

Stephen C. MerlinoStephen C. Merlino lives in Seattle, WA, where he writes, plays, and teaches high school English. He lives with the world’s most talented and desirable woman, two fabulous children, and three attack chickens.

Growing up in Seattle drove Stephen indoors for eight months of the year. Before the age of video games, that meant he read a lot. At the age of eleven he discovered the stories of J.R.R. Tolkein and fell in love with fantasy.

Summers and rare sunny days he spent with friends in wooded ravines or on the beaches of Puget Sound, building worlds in the sand, and fighting orcs and wizards with driftwood swords.

About the time a fifth reading of The Lord of the Rings failed to deliver the old magic, Stephen attended the University of Washington and fell in love with Chaucer and Shakespeare and all things English. Sadly, the closest he got to England back then was The Unicorn Pub on University Way, which wasn’t even run by an Englishman: it was run by a Scot named Angus. Still, he studied there, and as he sampled Angus’s weird ales, and devoured the Unicorn’s steak & kidney pie (with real offal!), he developed a passion for Scotland, too.

In college, he fell in love with writing, and when a kindly professor said of a story he’d written, “You should get that published!” Stephen took the encouragement literally, and spent the next years trying. The story remains unpublished, but the quest to develop it introduced Stephen to the world of agents (the story ultimately had two), and taught him much of craft and the value of what Jay Lake would call, “psychotic persistence.”

Add to that his abiding love of nerds–those who, as Sarah Vowel defines it, “go too far and care too much about a subject”–and you have Stephen Merlino in a nutshell.

Stephen is the 2014 PNWA winner for Fantasy.

He is also the 2014 SWW winner for Fantasy.

His novel, The Jack of Souls is in its fourth month in the top ten on Amazon’s Children’s Fantasy Sword & Sorcery Best Seller list, and among the top three in Coming-of-Age.

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About the Book:

An outcast rogue named Harric must break a curse laid on his fate or die by his nineteenth birthday.

As his dead-day approaches, nightmares from the spirit world stalk him and tear at his sanity; sorcery eats at his soul.

The Jack of Souls 2To survive, he’ll need more than his usual tricks. He’ll need help—and a lot of it—but on the kingdom’s lawless frontier, his only allies are other outcasts. One of these outcasts is Caris, a mysterious, horse-whispering runaway, intent upon becoming the Queen’s first female knight. The other is Sir Willard—ex-immortal, ex-champion, now addicted to pain-killing herbs and banished from the court.

With their help, Harric might keep his curse at bay. But for how long?

And both companions bring perils and secrets of their own: Caris bears the scars of a troubled past that still hunts her; Willard is at war with the Old Ones, an order of insane immortal knights who once enslaved the kingdom. The Old Ones have returned to murder Willard and seize the throne from his queen. Willard is both on the run from them, and on one final, desperate quest to save her.

Together, Harric and his companions must overcome fanatical armies, murderous sorcerers, and powerful supernatural foes.

Alone, Harric must face the temptation of a forbidden magic that could break his curse, but cost him the only woman he’s ever loved.

***

A tale of magic, mischief, and the triumph of tricksters.

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Stephen. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

The Jack of Souls is my first novel, and first in a fantasy series.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

After years of courting agents and editors, with small success, I began entering The Jack of Souls in literary contests. It was finalist in a number of contests, then it placed, and in 2014 it actually won the Pacific Northwest Writers Association award for fantasy (PNWA is a very large competition), and a month later it won the Southwest Writers award for fantasy. Additionally, Wattpad asked if they could make it a Featured novel.

It started to dawn on me that the only people that really matter in determining if a book is any good is the reader, and if readers liked the book enough to buy it and recommend it to others, then maybe I didn’t need an agent’s blessing after all.

So I ran a Kickstarter (a TON of work and a TON of fun—met supportive and generous people from 17 different countries), found a great artist (Jakub Rozalski), hired editors and formatters, and in the space of a few months I had ebook, paperback, and hardback up on Amazon.

I am extremely grateful to report that within a couple months it appeared in the top ten of several Amazon ebook bestseller lists. It kind of floored me, actually. Turns out, fantasy readers like it! Woohoo!

Today, it has a 4.5-star rating with over 50 reviews, and recently it received a 5-star rating from Midwest Book Review. I could not be more humbled and thankful for that. Indie publishing turned out to be a fantastic decision for me. I’m finally reaching readers and hearing back from them.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

It took me maybe three months to publish it. It was a lot of work—don’t get me wrong—but three months isn’t long at all. I understand that the big five corporate publishing houses take upwards of a year to publish a book; if I’m not mistaken, a year is fast for them. They have a lot more people involved at every level, choosing, asking, seeking permissions from higher-ups, making decisions, back-and-forthing, etc., so it isn’t surprising. When it’s just me orchestrating a team of folks I hire, things are bound to move a lot faster.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I felt relieved! Finally, I could move on to the second book in the series, The Knave of Souls. I aim to release it at the end of August 2015. J

To celebrate, my wife and I took the kids out to dinner, rode go-carts, and played laser tag in a fog-lit maze. Awesome.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I bought a copy of The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages and started sending queries to get bloggers to review the book. Turns out, it’s a lot like querying agents, but with (for me) a lot more positive results. Book bloggers are another fun group of people to work with.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I’ve gained weight. No, really. Something had to go, and it was exercise. Publishing and publicizing is a whole other layer of work to be done on top of writing, my teaching job, and family life.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

There is so much creativity and love of the craft in this industry! It feeds the soul. Good people, sharing information, learning together about something we love.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Reaching readers and hearing from them is the best thing about publishing a novel. Hands down. Writing can be such a lonely occupation. To reach a reader and hear an echo coming back from the void, that’s affirmation and connection. In that moment it goes from monologue to dialogue, from solitude to community, from “Sound and fury signifying nothing” to “Hey, that’s pretty good. Let’s talk about that!”

For me that’s where it’s at.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Read a lot. Write a lot. Find a good critique group so you can learn from other writers and readers. Refine. Revise. Repeat. J

Interview with Russ Colchamiro, author of sci-fi comedy ‘Genius De Milo’

Genius De Milo banner
Russ ColchamiroRuss Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure Crossline, the hilarious scifi backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, and the outrageous sequel, Genius de Milo, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in West Orange, NJ, with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ is now at work on the final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

His latest book is the science fiction novel, Genius De Milo.

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About the Book:

Genius De Milo 2Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:

The Earth has started fluxing in and out of existence, Theo’s twin girls are teleporting, and Jason can’t tell which version of his life is real.

All because of Milo, the Universe’s ultimate gremlin.

Joined by the mysterious Jamie — a down-and-out hotel clerk from Eternity — Jason and Theo reunite on a frantic, cross-country chase across America, praying they can retrieve that jar, circumvent Milo, and save the Earth from irrevocable disaster.

In author Russ Colchamiro’s uproarious sequel to Finders Keepers, he finally confirms what we’ve long suspected — that there’s no galactic Milo quite like a Genius de Milo.

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Russ Colchamiro.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Russ: I have several books in publication. My novels include the scifi backpacking comedies Finders Keepers and Genius de Milo -– think American Pie/Midnight Run meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — and the scifi mystery adventure, Crossline –- think Flash Gordon meets Escape from New York. I also contributed a short story to the Crazy 8 Press wizards and demons anthology Tales of the Crimson Keep.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

Russ: I was in deep negotiations with three mid- to large-size publishers, who all wanted Finders Keepers, but because of the economic downturn they all cut back on their production. They all said that if the economy had been better they would have signed me on the spot. So I wound up going with a small indie publisher, Three Finger Prints.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

Russ: Once we agreed, it took about six months to produce Finders Keepers and get it published and ready for sale.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

A: Finders Keepers debuted in October 2010, just two months after my twins were born. So the boring truth is that I didn’t do a whole of extra celebrating. I had my hands full, both figuratively and literally!

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

Russ: Let out a deep breath!

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Russ: I’m far more efficient. I have a much better sense of what the story needs and what it doesn’t need, so I’m not wasting nearly as much time with content that will never make the final version. I’m also getting much stronger at pacing, finding the right balance between pushing the plot forward but also taking enough time to develop the characters so that the readers are invested in the outcome.

I tend to write complex, interlocking character arcs and storylines into the overall narrative, so I’ve had to force myself to really focus on what’s most important, and then build around it.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

Russ: I published Finders Keepers in October 2010. I didn’t know it then, but it was right before e-books took over the market … and also in the middle of what turned out to be the biggest economic downturn in a century. Not what I’d call ideal timing! As I said above, I originally published (print and e-book) though a small indie publisher, Three Finger Prints, but despite the economy I had success right away.

I was able to land a national distribution contract (uncommon for a first-time author), with Finders Keepers carried by several Barnes & Noble stores throughout the country. Finders Keepers also received very supportive write-ups by Publishers Weekly, and I was one of only a half dozen authors globally to be invited by Wattpad to become one of their featured authors.

And then right after Finders Keepers debuted, e-books revolutionized the way readers digest novels, and for authors it’s been an entirely new and ever-changing world since then. I wound up reprinting Finders Keepers through Crazy 8 Press so that I now have my entire catalogue under one imprint, and control all of the rights, which is nice.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Russ: I take a certain pride in having brought my ideas to the page in a way that others can enjoy. Or ridicule! Ha. But seeing my books on a shelf, in someone’s home, or in a bookstore, or available online, let’s me know that I set my mind to accomplishing something that was important to me, and that I did it as well as I knew how to do — and was able to do — at the time that I did it.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Russ: Write because you love it, write for yourself, and write every day. And if you can make money at it … all the better.

On a more technical level, work with beta readers and editors who will give you actionable feedback that helps you improve the story you’re working on — and your craft — in very specific ways.

If you’re getting feedback like, “oh, that was good,” or “it wasn’t for me,” then they’re not really helping you.

Be highly selective, choosing people who will tell you what you actually need to hear, not what you want to hear. And keep your world of trusted ‘advisors’ on the small side. Feedback from too many people will distract and confuse you.

Being an author is a lot of work, so try to have as much as you can along the way, and unlike me, celebrate every step along the way. We writers need as much encouragement as we can get!

Interview with M.K. Theodoratus, author of ‘The Ghostcrow’

M.K. TheodoratusHooked by comic books at an early age, M. K. Theodoratus’ fascination with fantasy solidified when she discovered the Oz books by L. Frank Baum with his strong female characters. She has traveled through many fantasy worlds since then. When she’s not reading about other writer’s worlds, she’s creating her own.

Most of her stories are set in the Far Isles where she explores the political effects of genetic drift on a mixed elf human population. Lately, Theodoratus has been setting her stories in an alternate world of Andor where demons stalk humankind.

A sixth grade English assignment started her writing. The teacher assigned a short story. Theodoratus gave her an incomplete, 25-page Nancy Drew pastiche which turned into a full novel by the next summer. She’s been writing happily ever after ever since…for four or five writing careers. Most recently she’s been concentrating of her Andor stories, set in an alternate world where demons and magic plague humans.

Her latest book is the supernatural fantasy novelette, The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor.

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About the Book:

Seeing ghosts has plagued Dumdie Swartz since early childhood.

The Ghostcrow 2Afraid that ghost guts might stick to her if she stepped through them, thirteen-year-old Dumdie Swartz still cringes when she encounters them.

Her strange attempts to avoid spirits create a lonely life.

Her sisters constantly mock her strange behavior, her parents are clueless, and her social life is zero. Dumdie finds solace working in a shared garden with her elderly neighbor, Mr. Carson. When teens from her high school steal pumpkins from his garden, Mr. Carson is hurt during the theft, and later, dies.

Dumdie’s life takes a dark turn.

She learns there are stranger things than ghosts, when she senses something evil living in Kyle, one of the boys who had raided the pumpkin patch. Kyle bullies Dumdie to scare her into silence. The more Kyle threatens her, the clearer she perceives the evil thing possessing him. Dumdie finds support in an unlikely group of girls who befriend her when she helps them with their costumes for the Pumpkin festival. During the festival, Dumdie’s fears explode when the thing possessing Kyle decides it wants to possess her.

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Kay. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

First, thank you for the opportunity to talk about my writing.

Nothing like stumping me with your first question. Don’t think I fit into any of the molds. I’ve been writing since the sixth grade, and we won’t go into how long that is. I sold my first short stories to the kids’ section of Sunday newspapers. Not often, but often enough to keep me daydreaming in a coherent fashion. I’ve sold both fiction and non-fiction to other publications over the years.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I’ve enjoyed several writing “careers”. This time around, I sold some fantasy stuff to WolfSinger Press and Spectra, but the short story I wrote for Spectra, Night for the Gargoyles, really lit the fire in my imagination. I expanded it into a novel about the demon/gargoyle battles for the city of Trebridge and was offered a contract when I pitched it at a writer’s conference to a small indie publisher.

Being a responsible citizen, I started building a writer’s platform by self-publishing other short stories and novelettes set in my alternative world of Andor. The publisher folded for a variety of reasons, not all their fault, and I was left with a bunch of self-published stories I enjoy sharing.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

See above.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

The first time? Don’t think I remember. I was a sour pickle-puss as a teen. Not really a loner, but I definitely preferred writing my stories and reading books to people.

Do remember encountering the English lit guys of the college literary magazine, though. Since I thought of myself as a writer, I went to their recruitment meeting where these males strutted and spouted about literature. Turned out I was the only one who had been independently published…though my stuff was beneath their notice. Dylan Thomas or James Joyce I wasn’t. I’m still not and have no ambition to become “great”.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

Ahh, memories of the past. I didn’t promote at all. My story appeared in the paper, and I basked in my nice letter from the editor. Probably put the check in the bank.

To promote my self-published stories now, I do the social media thing: GoodReads, Twitter, Facebook, etc. plus trying out blog tours.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Think I’m a little too old to grow. I just like to tell my stories and, thanks to the web, it’s easy to share them. Guess my craft skills have improved. I don’t have to eliminate nearly as many passive structures as I used to.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

Nothing has surprised me, even though the industry turned rather strange with the corporate paradigm taking over. But who can say it’s worse than the old paradigm of being a gentleman’s hobby.

The web has made it much easier to get published, if you don’t mind becoming your own publisher. That means not only are you responsible for creating the story, you must get your book content edited, copy edited, put the print book together or format it as an ebook, and market it so people have a chance to notice it.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

*Shrug* I have made any best-seller lists, so I have made my fortune yet. I do get to share my writing if anyone cares to read it. Is that a reward?

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

I’ll join the ranks of Stephen King and a host of others. In one word: write. Even if someone says your stories are junk, write. Then, write some more.

People learn the craft of writing by writing. For some, it’s a natural born talent. For others, it’s a hard row to hoe.

Another little secret, find a writers group. You can learn to improve your writing both by critiquing others and listening to the comments of others about your writing. If you meet a troll along the way, ignore them even if they say hurtful things.

Read the blogs of your favorite writers. You may be surprised to learn they have “trunk novels” which will never see the light of day because they hadn’t yet learned their craft when they wrote them.

 

 

 

A Conversation with Sarah Remy, author of ‘Stonehill Downs’

Stonehill Downs banner 2

Sarah RemyWe’re happy to be hosting Sarah Remy today at Beyond the Books! In 1994 Sarah earned a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from Pomona College in California. Since then she’s been employed as a receptionist at a high-powered brokerage firm, managed a boutique bookstore, read television scripts for a small production company, and, more recently, worked playground duty at the local elementary school.

When she’s not taking the service industry by storm, she’s writing fantasy and science fiction. Sarah likes her fantasy worlds gritty, her characters diverse and fallible, and she doesn’t believe every protagonist deserves a happy ending.

Before joining the Harper Voyager family, she published with EDGE, Reuts, and Madison Place Press.

Sarah lives in Washington State with plenty of animals and people, both. In her limited spare time she rides horses, rehabs her old home, and supervises a chaotic household. She can talk to you endlessly about Sherlock Holmes, World of Warcraft, and backyard chicken husbandry, and she’s been a member of one of Robin Hobb’s longest-running online fan clubs since 2002.

Her latest is the fantasy novel, Stonehill Downs.

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About the Book:

Stonehill Downs 2Stonehill Downs follows Mal, a powerful mage who functions as Lord Vocent, the king’s personal forensic scientist and detective.  Magic and murder are his calling.  Never have the two entangled in quite as terrifying a manner as on Stonehill Downs, where Avani, a Goddess-gifted outsider, has discovered a host of gruesome corpses reeking of supernatural malfeasance.  The investigation is haunted by ghosts of Mal’s past, and the two quickly learn that they must cast aside their secrets if they are to succeed in unearthing the pervading evil—before it’s unleashed from the boundaries of the Downs, straight into the heart of the kingdom.

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Sarah. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Thank you! Lovely to be here. I’m a multi-published author. I’ve been writing for a long time and sold to various markets.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

The first time I published was through a small publisher. It was a very positive experience but I felt that I could do much of the legwork myself and next time around I self-published. I continue to self-publish years later alongside short stories in small presses and a contract with HarperCollins. I think of myself as a hybrid author.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

Regarding my latest book, Stonehill Downs, I signed Harper’s contract in June and the book came out in December. It was a very professional and smooth process.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I was very excited, of course, and a little shocked. I went out for Indian and champagne, and then started on my next project. I’m a firm believer that it’s important to keep moving forward.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I hit up all the local bookstores. As an author, you need to personally make sure your book is ordered in and promoted in-store. In general, most brick and mortar stores are eager to support the local talent. Every store I approached set up a signing. If I hadn’t put myself politely in front of the book buyer, however, they would have never known Stonehill Downs existed, and that’s in spite of Harper’s press releases and promo blurbs. Your average author shoulders as much of the marketing work with a mainstream publisher as when self-publishing.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I think once you’ve got that first book under your belt, you’ve less excuses to waffle on the next one. You’ve done it once, you know you can do it again. You’ve got that little confidence lift.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

It’s changed a lot over the years. Social media has made it a new animal. Luckily I’m a social media fiend, because these days you really need to be. You have to get out there and promote yourself and your work, but It’s not about sales, it’s about making connections with an audience who might enjoy you as a person and your stories as entertainment.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

I really don’t think the reward is in being published. The reward is in writing a story you’re proud of, and enjoying the writing of it. The thrill is in creating, fiddling, and perfecting. I find escapism in writing almost exactly as I find escapism in reading.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Always keep moving forward. No regrets, no second-guessing. Write the story you enjoy writing, polish it up, send it out. Move on to the next one. Find joy in the process, because honestly that’s the best part.

 

 

 

Interview with Mercedes King, author of A Dream Called Marilyn

Mercedes KingA founding member of Sisters in Crime Columbus, Ohio (affectionately dubbed SiCCO), Mercedes King can be found elbow-deep in research, reading, or enjoying the local bike path. Combining her love of pop culture with history, she created A Dream Called Marilyn, a fictional take on the last weeks of Marilyn’s life. With an unquenchable thirst for a bygone era, she’s also written O! Jackie, a fictional take on Jackie Kennedy’s private life–and how she dealt with JFK’s affairs. Short story fans would enjoy The Kennedy Chronicles, a series featuring Jackie and Jack before the White House and before they were married. Visit Mercedes’ website at www.mercedesking.com to find out more.

About the Book:

A Dream Called Marilyn 2

In the summer of 1962, nothing could prepare Dr. Charles Campbell for his first meeting with new client, Marilyn Monroe. A reputable L.A. psychiatrist, he’s been hired by a studio executive to treat and subdue the star, no matter what it takes. Although he’s been warned about Ms. Monroe’s unpredictability, she’s not what he expected. Gaining Marilyn’s trust means crossing doctor-patient boundaries, and trying to separate fact from Hollywood-fed-rumors proves destructive to both Charles’ career and his personal life. As Marilyn shares her secrets and threatens to go public with information that could destroy President Kennedy’s administration, Charles’ world turns upside-down. He sinks deeper into her troubles than he should, but Charles becomes determined to help her, even though it means endangering Marilyn’s life and risking his own.

For More Information

  • A Dream Called Marilyn is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Mercedes. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

I’ve been at this for a while. A Dream Called Marilyn is my first novella, but I have two other novels and short stories that are available.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I self-published my first novel after 5 years of rejections. Not easy, but most agents / publishers didn’t want to take it on because of the subject matter (O! Jackie…Jackie Kennedy is ultimately responsible for the death of Marilyn Monroe [fiction!]).

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

I published with an e-book publisher last year. I signed the contract in December 2013 and the book was available (after 4 rounds of edits) in May 2014.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

Getting published is a lot like having a child, for me. A LOT goes into creating that baby of yours, and right before it’s released, there’s a lot of labor in the end. All worth it, though. Both for the books and especially for the babies!

Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?

A gentleman contacted me for a podcast interview for his program. It was simple, straight-forward and a ton of fun.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

As a writer, I no longer mind the edit / review process. I know it takes time to get the words and format right. Even then, you still might find a mistake, but not rushing is important.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

Publishing is always changing, which is both exciting and sometimes frustrating. The hardest part is getting your book in front of readers. And then you hope, that one people do take a chance on your book(s) that you’ve gained a reader-for-life.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Anytime someone shares that he/she has enjoyed my book. There are tons of great authors and books out there, so it’s always special to hear from someone that he/she enjoyed your story. It’s always appreciated!

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Finish what you start. Even if you hate the book by the time you’re done. Finish it. Don’t get distracted by a ‘great new idea’. The journey of writing a book is loaded with life lessons.

 

 

 

Interview with Miguel Lopez de Leon, author of Galadria: Peter Huddleston and the Knights of the Leaf

Miguel Lopez de LeonMiguel Lopez de Leon is a prolific fiction writer with over 30 short stories published in a variety of international literary magazines and anthologies. De Leon, who prefers to write in the mornings, began working on his first novel as a hobby. That first book blossomed into the Galadria trilogy. “One part of the writing process I really enjoy is writing the first draft of a novel…For me, it’s the time when you can lose yourself in the story the most.” De Leon lives in Los Angeles and enjoys reading historical biographies and collecting vintage comic books.

His latest book is the fantasy novel, Galadria: Peter Huddleston & The Knights of the Leaf.

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Miguel. Can you start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

 Thank you for having me on Beyond the Books! Yes, my work has been published before.

Galadria 2Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

Before I started writing fantasy novels, I wrote short stories. Over thirty of them were traditionally published in various literary magazines and anthologies. When I wrote the first novel of my fantasy trilogy, Galadria: Peter Huddleston & The Rites of Passage, I was traditionally published as well. For the first edition of this novel, I went the usual route and sent a list of publishers a query letter. One publisher was interested, and after they read the whole manuscript, they offered me a contract and published the book.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

A little less than a year.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

It felt great to have my first novel published! I was happy to have the opportunity to get my work out there to as many people as possible. How did I celebrate? When the first book of the trilogy was published, I was already writing the sequel, which for me, was the best possible way to celebrate!

Q: What was the first thing you did for promotion when you were published for the first time?

On the day the first edition of my first novel came out, Galadria: Peter Huddleston & The Rites of Passage, I remember I was booked to be interviewed on a local television show. Before filming, the host of the show walked up to me and was holding a paperback copy of my book, it was the first time I ever saw it!

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Since the first edition of my first novel was published, a lot has happened. After the completion of the initial run of the first edition of Galadria: (Book 1) Peter Huddleston & The Rites of Passage, I then published the entire trilogy myself, including Galadria: (Book 2) Peter Huddleston & The Mists of the Three Lakes, and Galadria: (Book 3) Peter Huddleston & The Knights of the Leaf. Once I took over the handling of my fantasy trilogy, I really learned a lot about book design, promotion, pricing, eBooks, and all the details that come with publishing and marketing a book. In the last few years, the publishing industry has changed so much. These days, publishing your own books isn’t a cliche anymore, in a lot of ways, for a lot of writers, it’s more practical. For myself, I enjoyed the process of taking control of my own books, just as much as being traditionally published. One is not better or worse than the other, it just depends on what you want, and what you are able and willing to do.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

 What constantly surprises me about the publishing industry is the way it is constantly changing. With eBooks, POD, online retailing, the evolving of social media, and the way most people are completely dependent on technology (Their phones!) for everyday life, the way books are thought of has changed as well. Books need to be just as convenient to find and buy online as any other product, which has led to a growing shift to eBooks, online editors, online book promoters, and every other online author service you could think of. The playing field between self published authors and traditionally published authors is evening out considerably.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author? 

Simply doing work that I love is really its own reward. I love writing fantasy novels, and whenever I meet a reader who has enjoyed the books I’ve written, I am all the more grateful.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Don’t give up! If what you want is to be traditionally published, then go for it! Write the best query letter you can, and be patient in terms of agent or publisher response time. If you have the inclination, check out all the opportunities to self publish. Either way, just know that their are a lot of options for writers out there, it just depends on what you want.

 

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